Monday, June 30, 2008

I think my chipset needs a software update, too.

My Garmin GPSmap 60CSx betrayed me this afternoon, but only briefly. I wasn't geocaching at the time, only driving back from an errand, but I turned on the 60 and realized at home that it was still Acquiring Satellites. Off, on, off, on, batteries out, batteries in, system reset, SD card out, SD card in, nothing. I could hear the voices...

"Chuck it in the trash... 40% off Best Buy coupon... Colorado 400t... you deserve it!"

But, no, I love my 60CSx! After some searching around the internet, I came across this post on the forums, installed Webupdater from the website, updated the system software and the chipset software, and once again everything works like a charm. It was startling to see my old piece of s*** Vista gobbling up those satellite signals while the 60CSx looked around, saying, "Huh? What satellites? Where are we?"

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Look, kids, ice cream cones!

C and I don't often hire a babysitter and get out for a nice dinner, but yesterday we had two reasons built into one day -- C finished her second book and sent it off to the publisher, and she wanted to do so by my birthday, my 38th.

We went to W.A. Frost in the Cathedral Hill area of Saint Paul. The patio area was packed on such a nice evening, so we sat in the dining room, even though we ordered bar food. I wanted a burger to go with my beer -- in an effort to become a Beer Geek I aim to have a different beer every time I order one... for the rest of my life. We'll see.

I took my wedding band off in the car somehow, and C made me walk back to retrieve it. While I did, she ordered an appetizer that was amusing enough for me to take a photograph of it.

Look, kids, ice cream cones!

This was the Tasting of Savory Cones, featuring, left-to-right, wild acres duck rillette and lingonberry with chive batons, red snapper ceviche with local corn and avocado, and smoked salmon mousse with dill. (I plagiarized that description from the W.A. Frost website.)

Very tasty, if a little precious for my tastes, and it definitely met our Rule #1 of ordering in restaurants: Don't order something you're likely to make for yourself at home. Anything in a cone at my house is going to come out of a 5-gallon tub of Neapolitan.

I ordered a pint of Flat Earth Cygnus X-1 (my favorite beer -- I know, I already broke my promise) and a sample of the Surly Bitter Brewer, which according to the Surly website they only made 30 barrels of. I wasn't particularly impressed, but it's not my favorite style anyway.

We had some other stuff, but I'm not doing a restaurant review here. We then went over to Muddy Pig, where I had a glass of the Belhaven Wee Heavy scotch ale and picked up a free copy of Beer Advocate magazine to continue my Beer Geekification.

C drove home, we sent the babysitter on her way, and we discovered raw sewage backing up into the basement. Happy birthday! Plumber on the way.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

This blog post is not plagiarized.

At the risk of turning this blog into the "Central Ohio News Source", I have more news to report from my childhood home.

The 2008 valedictorian from my alma mater, Circleville High School, has been stripped of his status after admitting that he plagiarized his valedictory speech from another graduation speech that used Beatles lyrics. Now, he is threatening a lawsuit against the school district if he is not reinstated.

The YouTube video from which he apparently stole the idea and words has been taken down (as has an AOL video version), but it appears that graduation speech was patterned after an earlier graduation speech that can be seen in this blog post about the chain of speeches.

These events interest me because I, too, was a valedictorian at Circleville High School in 1988. Well, whoop-de-ding-dong-dandy, you might be saying, especially if you're from Circleville, Ohio, where folks say stuff like that.

Notice that I said "a" valedictorian, not "the" valedictorian. There were five valedictorians that year. It wasn't that hard to be valedictorian at Circleville High School, was it?! There were 168 students in my graduating class, which means that nearly 3% of the graduating class were valedictorians. Two of them went to Ohio State, one went to Miami University (in Ohio), one went to Princeton, and I went to Ohio University.

In case you'd like to call my status as valedictorian into question, you can look at this older post about how I maintained my grade point average in drivers' education.

I'm particularly amused by this quote from his lawyer that appears in the Chillicothe Gazette: "He had the highest G.P.A. in the history of the school." Well, sure, that's easy to do when you can earn 5's in courses when formerly only 4's were possible. When they start awarding 6's for students who suck up extra hard, then the Fifth Beatle's record will be surpassed.

This all might sound like I'm defensive and still hung up on things like this, but to tell the truth I think being a high school valedictorian actually hindered my education. When I went to college, I chose courses based on whether I thought I could maintain my grade point average rather than whether I thought I could learn and grow in that course. I turned away from learning opportunities out of fear.

Well, everyone has to learn that these things are not that important. It took me a while down the road to learn. It's unfortunate that the Fifth Beatle has to learn in a particularly public and painful way.

Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, life goes on.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My uncle is a hero!

My uncle, a dentist in Columbus, Ohio, saved the life of a two-year-old girl. (And, no, I'm not posting this for the purposes of "damage control".) How must it feel to save a life? How must the parents feel? And what memories, conscious or not, of the event will the little girl have?

Video from Columbus ABC affiliate

I'm so proud that I'm willing to give the hack local reporter a pass for his lame attempt at pulling heartstrings.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

An "incredible cacher"?!

In his most recent episode of the Twin Cities Geocaching Podcast, sir_zman refers to me as an incredible cacher. What? By "incredible", he must have meant "It's incredible to me that firstbass was willing to act like a fool in front of my microphone. This is Podcast Comedy Gold!" (That's gold, Jerry, GOLD!)

The TCGCPC is always wide-ranging in its choice of topics, but from my self-centered point of view, the main ideas from this episode were:

1. firstbass is often drunk,

2. firstbass uses profanity liberally,

3. firstbass tells stories about decapitated farm animals, AND

4. firstbass has volunteered to work with YOUR UNSUSPECTING DAUGHTERS at a math camp. Sign up now!

My wife, a media scholar and also my PR consultant, has suggested that some "damage control" may be necessary and that I should "re-frame the conversation".

Therefore, stay tuned for videos of 1B and his adorable five-year-old twins enjoying wholesome activities -- riding bikes at the park, reading stories (about live farm animals), and learning valuable life lessons...

"Now, kids, this is a micro-cache. In the woods. Don't you think that a much larger cache could have been placed here?"

"Be honest, kids. When you get home, make sure you log your DNF."

"Kids, if you're going to take that plastic dinosaur, then we need to place something of equal value in that cache."

"Who solved this puzzle, kids? That's right, I did. Don't forget that. So before you go logging this find, think about whether that's the right thing to do."

Monday, June 9, 2008

More streaming 1B content

In January 1997 I lived in Lincoln Park on the north side of Chicago. Here is the story of how I received the head of a cow in the mail.

Listen to the audio here.

Thanks to sir_zman for hosting the audio, even though this audio clip is not suitable for or relevant to his podcast.

This incident foreshadows my interest in opening up boxes to find treasures hidden inside. I don't think the guidelines explicitly forbid heads of cows in caches, but I'm sure it would be frowned upon.

One part of this story I didn't tell: after the ex-roommates moved away, their dog Cheeto ran away from home and showed up on my back porch to live with me. Now, if I was a much more evil person than I already am, maybe my ex-roommates would have received a little surprise in the mail!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The A/V 1B

I know you're asking yourself, How can I get more exciting 1B content? Sure, essays and anecdotes about geocaching and geocachers are fine, but where are the podcasts and videos? Where is the multimedia 1B experience?

Well, wait no longer. After WeekNIGHT caching last night, sir_zman of the Twin Cities Geocaching Podcast interviewed me, and Silent Bob (Bill Roehl) of the Lazy Lightning blog made a video of the interview. Here is the link to Bill's post, and here is the video, somewhat NSFW:

Originally uploaded by Bill Roehl

sir_zman's podcast version, cleaned up for family consumption, should be available soon.

If this is my youtube gotcha moment, then I can deal with it. I mean, I didn't kick any cats or start break-dancing or pick my nose or scream at any co-workers. And I was not drunk. In the interest of full disclosure, during the two hours before this interview, I ate a Panino Brothers Von Braun sandwich (very good, but I did not photograph it) and drank a Guinness (that I bought) and a Pabst Blue Ribbon that Bill bought me (Gee, thanks!) because I walked into a lake up to my chest with my clothes on. So my blood alcohol level was positive but negligible.

Good thing my wife and I are getting a mortgage on some new home coordinates -- there'll be more room to store my ever-expanding head.

I know, I know, this only whets the appetite for the A/V 1B. Stay tuned for an outtake from the Twin Cities Geocaching Podcast in which I tell the story of receiving the head of a cow in the mail.


Anyone want to sell me a Wii? I might be the only person in the Twin Cities who owns a Wii Fit but no Wii. I own an expensive slab of useless plastic. I thought I might have to hide this inexplicable purchase from my wife, but, bless her heart, she's more excited about Wii Fit than I am. Now if we could only play it!

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Minnesota State Parks Geocaching History Challenge, brought to you by... GSAK!

My first trip up north, tons of great caches and beautiful views, great MnGCA event, meeting lots of old and new cachers, encounters with law enforcement, getting kicked out of state parks, almost breaking my kneecaps, figuring out what cornhole is, blowing a caching competition out of stupidity... all that, and what do I choose to post about? A neat feature of GSAK that I just learned about for this trip.

LucidOndine offered to give me a ride up to the north shore for the event at Gooseberry Falls as long as I would figure out which caches to find. My vague plans were to (1) find a cache in every new county on the way up (I'd never been north of Ham Lake before Friday), (2) grab some of the state park history caches, and (3) find some of the challenging caches on the north shore that Millah suggested, like this and this and this and this.

But I still like to be prepared to be flexible, so I wanted to be able to load about 1000 caches that were in the vicinity of our route. I've used's Cache Along A Route feature successfully (computer-wise, not caching-wise... I found one cache in Wisconsin on that trip.), but that was before GSAK came into my life. For the first time last Friday I used GSAK's Arc/Poly filter, and it worked like a dream. I used Google Earth to find driving directions from the point where the 35's come together north of the Cities to Lutsen, where we were staying, saved it as a .kml file, and then asked GSAK to filter for all available caches that I haven't found that are within about 13.5 miles of that route. It was enjoyable to load the resulting sausage of about 1000 caches on to my 60CSx.

So that's my technological triumph of the weekend. Now for the failure: my Palm and Cachemate have been demoted to Piece of S*** status. Now that I have the entire state of Minnesota loaded into GSAK and Cachemate via 17 pocket queries from, Cachemate is choking like a dog. It rebooted the operating software on my Palm 12 times in three days. I plan to clear it all and then load only a small subset of those caches on to the Palm, because I like to make notes on the caches I find on the Palm, but I don't want to wait five minutes every time I do it.